Support for Fortran Standards Development

Report to Fortran SG AGM 2nd October 2014

The development of most major programming languages is now undertaken by standards committees. Fortran is still the language of choice for much scientific, engineering, and economic programming, particularly for very large programs that have evolved over many years. BCS has supported the UK contribution to the development of international Fortran standards since 2003. The initial case from 2002 is at and subsequent annual reports are linked from

UK members participate in the ISO Fortran committee (SC22/WG5), the BSI Programming Language committee (IST/5), the ISO Programming Language Committee (SC22) and the US Fortran committee (PL22.3 aka J3). In addition to attendance at BSI and international meetings, to the costs of which BCS has contributed, much work is of course undertaken by email. The BSI Fortran panel and the BCS Fortran Specialist Group make every effort to represent the UK as a whole at international meetings.

Activity 2013-2014
The latest revision of the full Fortran language standard, informally known as Fortran 2008, was published in October 2010. Work on determining the content of the next revision started in 2012-2013 and continued during the past year. However the principal priority during the year continued to be development of the Technical Specification on Additional Parallel Features.

Technical Specification on Additional Parallel Features in Fortran
The content of the report to extend the parallel processing facilities in Fortran continued to be controversial. That the requirements were "finally agreed" in 2012 turned out to be an illusion. Debate has continued strongly since then but significant progress towards consensus was made at the WG5 meeting in June 2014. The scheduled publication date is now January 2016.

Future Development of the Fortran Standard
It had been decided that no extensions should be considered for the next revision but that it should incorporate (a) the technical corrigenda, (b) the two technical specifications (on further interoperability with C - published in November 2012 - and on additional parallel facilities), (c) editorial improvements and (d) removal of existing deficiencies and irregularities. As in the previous year the UK group had a long and lively email discussion on this last point which resulted in submitting twelve proposals to WG5 for consideration. The US and Germany each submitted four proposals. Ten of the UK proposals were accepted, as were three of the US proposals; the counts include one proposal made by both countries. The details are listed in document WG5-N2023.

Whether or not to keep back the language revision to accommodate the delayed report on additional parallel facilities proved to be the most contentious matter at the June WG5 meeting. It was decided by a strong majority to change the publication date to February 2018, that is a delay of one year; the UK delegation was divided on the issue.

Fortran Annex for TR 24772 (Guidance to Avoiding Vulnerabilities in Programming Languages through Language Selection and Use)
Contrary to expectations the Fortran-specific annex produced by WG5, with UK participation, was not included in the 2013 edition of this Technical Report. It is now expected to be in the next edition, although in February there was a surprise proposal by the US that the relevant standards group (SC22/WG23) be disbanded. The proposal however was strongly opposed by other countries and came to naught.

WG5 meeting in 2015
Participating countries take turns to host the annual WG5 meeting and it is the turn of the UK in 2015. The Membership Board has kindly agreed to the use of rooms in Southampton Street free of charge for the week 3 to 7 August.

The UK continues to play a major role in the development of the Fortran language as will be seen from the success of its proposals above. The convenor of WG5, the project editor, the webmaster and the email administrator are all from the UK, as are (usually, but appointed annually) the minutes secretary and the editor of the Technical Corrigenda.

All Fortran development papers are open to all interested worldwide; minutes of the most recent WG5 meeting are in WG5-N2020 and the resolutions are in WG5-N2021. WG5 documents are available via its website J3 papers are obtainable from

The Group is extremely grateful for the continuing support of BCS.

David Muxworthy
BSI Fortran Convenor
17th September 2014

Comments on this or any other of the Group's pages should be sent by email to the FSG Web Editor.
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Last modified: Mon 12 Oct 2015 23:40:16